"The Johnny Mercer Songbook" - Ella Fitzgerald (voc); Nelson Riddle (arr, cond); Plas Johnson (ts); Willie Smith (as); Buddy DeFranco (cl); Paul Smith (p); Frank Flynn (vib), a.o.
The Johnny Mercer Songbook is the very last release by Speakers Corner in the superb Ella Fitzgerald songbook series. To speak of 'songs' by Johnny Mercer, and just calling him a 'composer', falls far short of the truth for he is the personification of a top composer, a great lyricist, and a shrewd businessman, who set up a monument to himself with his extremely successful record company Capitol Records.
Ella sang Johnny Mercer’s compositions over and over again, and on this recording we have a wonderful version of "Something’s Gotta Give" and Johnny Mercer’s theme song and showpiece "Dream". His inspiration as a lyricist is masterly. Who else could have thought of such a gorgeous introduction to Stan Getz’s number "Early Autumn" »When an early autumn walks the land and chills the breeze and touches with her hand the summer trees …«? Or the refrain from "I Remember You": »When my life is through, and the angels ask me to recall the thrill of them all«.
All in all, Johnny Mercer composed or wrote the lyrics to over 1000 songs, 13 of which Ella performs here in masterly fashion and in her own inimitable style – mellifluous, electric, or swinging.
Recording: October 1964 in Los Angeles by Val Valentin
Production: Norman Granz